Monday, March 31, 2008

A Pair of Great Jokes for Kids

  • Q: What do you call a dinosaur with one eye?
  • A: Do-you-think-he-saw-us

  • Q: What do you call his dog?
  • A: Do-you-think-he-saw-us-Rex

Just Another Typical Day in London

Politically correct Deputy Minister of the British Labour Party, Harriet Harman, went for a stroll in the London neighbourhood of Peckham. Not only was she surrounded by a phalanx of policemen but she also wore a stab-proof kevlar vest. There's a growing controversy over why Ms. Harman felt it necessary to have so much protection. Perhaps this is a sign that she's going to be issuing free kevlar vests to all the citizens of Peckham? Or maybe it's just further evidence that she's a complete political twit?!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vancouver on a Cold Spring Day

Pinocchios Absentias aka Hillary Clinton

Dennis Miller rants on Hillary Clinton's recent fiasco:
But the funniest of all was just before midway when Miller went on an hilarious rant about Skeletor aka James Carville.

A Typical Vancouver Couple

I went for a walk today and got stuck behind this couple for about 10 minutes. The entire time they were each blathering on their cel phones. I guess those early magic moments of their relationship have passed.
Call me a sentimental romantic but I actually like to be mentally with the person I'm with, not just physically beside them.

The Perfect Gift For Several Women I Know!

The Danger of Rhetoric

Fitna, the movie:

Jeremiah Wright:

Pat Robertson:

I've got to believe that there's a special place in hell for these people who use "God" to justify their rampant hate.

"It's Not Important For Me To Succeed, Only For My Friends To Fail"

Mark Steyn chimes in on the whole Hillary Clinton mess that is her campaign.

It's Now All Over For Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, the next presumptive President of the United States, at least in her own mind, has been stabbed in the back. The odd thing is, she did it to herself!

She's been caught in a lie - a big one - and it clearly seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Journalists are fed up. Colleagues are fed up. Even several of her own supporters are fed up. Peggy Noonan, in a comprehensive new article, explains just how damaged Mrs. Clinton has become.

Her article inspired this video:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Yet Another Story About That "Horrible" Wal-Mart

I seem to have a talent for meeting an endless stream of Socialist Kool-Aid drinkers, who nowadays prefer to call themselves "progressives". Here are some "truths" amongst their high-priests:

  • The government is good and the primary protector of you, dear naive citizen.
  • Private enterprise is bad.
  • The gold medalist for horrible private companies is Exxon.
  • Wal-Mart earns the silver medal.
A fly-in-the-ointment of such beliefs is an interesting story that has come out of the September 2005 Katrina Hurricane disaster.

Rogers Adoption Curve

Today I learned about the Technology Adoption Curve, developed by scholar, Everett Rogers, in 1983. While the actual percentages vary in every single case, the general trend is supposed to be quite consistent. This is a vivid reminder to all innovators to remain persistent in the beginning because it will be an uphill climb!

Vancouver Weather - Huh?!?

I'd love to hear how Al Gore would explain this:

Proof Positive that Canada's Gov't Bureaucracy Has Gone Mad!

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry while reading Mark Steyn's latest article about the assorted Canadian "human rights" commissions. My long held suspicions that many government bureaucrats (not all, V!) are living in a wacky parallel universe (and could never hack it in the private sector) are confirmed by this article.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Strange Dilemma - What Would You Do?

I've received several messages from someone asking me to remove my Tibet Protest March video from YouTube:

The writer appears to be a woman living in Richmond, BC. "She" says that a friend of hers appears in the video and she fears for her safety if the video remains up.

Besides the obvious authenticity issue of the anonymous writer, this raises all sorts of issues of censorship. If you were in my case, what would you do?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Creativity of Software Development

A longtime friend of mine, Lisa Riley, has recently started a blog connected to her counseling practice. She asked me to write a little something about creativity and my profession. You can read it here.

Older People, Computers, and Simple Instructions

Here's an hilarious story about why older people frequently get frustrated with computers and why younger people frequently get frustrated with older people.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Remote Desktop

Being away for a month, I had the time & space to clear my head and think. One thing that became crystal clear was that I needed to improve my workspace at my home office. So I moved things around quite a bit and am very happy with the end result. Thanks to some advice from one of my best friends, a young lad in Mexico, I figured out a way to finally clear my desk of the huge 17" CRT monitor that once consumed a large footprint on it.

Its only purpose was to access a desktop computer that I use as a "server" of sorts for running a database and holding large files. But the fact is that I only rarely need to turn that monitor on. But how to get rid of it?

The key lay in turning on a neat feature in Windows XP called Remote Desktop (though some variation of it is available on every operating system. Once activated then I could connect to the server from any other computer on my network (or even outside my network if I so wanted).

This screen appears. Once all the correct permissions are set then you just need to press "Connect".

This is the desktop screen of my server, except that I'm looking at it on my workstation. One difference is the pale yellow tab on the upper edge. It reminds me that this is a different computer I'm looking at.
Other than that, it all works exactly the same as if you were typing at your local computer. Very, very powerful!

Translation Sought

A friend of mine who is known for his twisted sense of humour gave me this T-Shirt. Before I wear it in public and possibly get myself into big trouble, I thought I should find out what this symbol means in English. Hoping someone can let me know.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Few More Flowers

With all the controls available on my new camera, I experimented with a few shots. This first one has the depth of field very low, focused on the flowers in the foreground.

With the flash on, everything in the background is blacked out.

Vancouver Vistas

My mom invited me over for Easter dinner. While there I stepped out on her balcony and observed that the weather patterns were changing in Vancouver. This revealed some interesting photo opportunities.

Eggs Benedict

Two orders of Florentine Eggs Benedict at Paul's Place. DE-licious!

Career Lessons from Eliott Spitzer’s Call Girl, Ashley Dupre

Career coach, Penelope Trunk, combines humour and some practical advice when discussing the Eliott Spitzer incident.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Little Colour on a Typical Cloudy Spring Day

Click on this thumbnail to see what this special Easter wreath is made from!

Free Tibet Protest March - Vancouver, BC

I was having coffee with David Berner when a Free Tibet protest came marching up the street.

I applaud these people for their convictions and deeply support their right to protest what is clearly oppression and injustice. Why I would never spend my time joining them though is because if a country were ever to stand up to China and forcibly extricate them from Tibet, these same people would be protesting such military actions. Thus such protests are really only a half-hearted affair.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why Is The Internet Different Than Real Life?

If you use the Internet more than a little, here's an important video you should watch (ensure there are no kids around) :

The speaker, Tom, makes some excellent points, all of which I've been thinking about for years now. The truth is that the anonymity the Internet provides allows the very worst people in society to control a much larger community. Imagine attending a party full of lots of wonderful, interesting people. But one person slips in who is drunk. She shouts & screams and curses all night. Do you think the party will be the same?

When I embark on my family of social networking sites, I plan to implement peer-level moderation ability, allowing the group to exorcise the troublemaker out of the discussion. If said troublemaker keeps it up in other discussions then they'll be removed permanently and blocked via their IP address. While they could go to another computer, say at an Internet cafe, they'll quickly be booted out again. Hopefully they'll grow tired of being ostracized and will find another home to espouse their anger.

Funniest Thing I've Read in Some Time

I've spent countless enjoyable hours the past few days finishing the fascinating book, The Devil In the White City. It was written by Seattle author, Erik Larson. It's a non-fiction book that reads like a fiction thriller, telling two intertwined tales. The first is about the legendary architect, Daniel Burnham, and his colleagues who went through great strife to build the amazing 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The second is about a despicable serial killer who carried out unspeakable acts very close to where the fair was held.

It was recommended by my friend, Kristi, and is one of the best books I've read in some time. I actually left the copy I bought on a plane coming back from Hawaii! But the Vancouver Public Library quickly helped me out!!

So what does all of this have to do with humour? Well, let me quote you something from Page 284:

With so many people packed among steam engines, giant rotating wheels, horse-drawn fire trucks, and rocketing bobsleds, the fair's ambulances superintended by a doctor named Gentles were constantly delivering bruised, bloody, and overheated visitors to the exposition hospital. Over the life of the fair the hospital treated 11,602 patients, sixty-four a day, for injuries and ailments that suggest that the mundane sufferings of people have not changed very much over the ages. The list included:

  • 820 cases of diarrhea;
  • 154, constipation;
  • 21, hemorrhoids;
  • 434, indigestion;
  • 365, foreign bodies in the eyes;
  • 364, severe headaches;
  • 594 episodes of fainting, syncope, and exhaustion;
  • 1 case of extreme flatulence;
  • and 169 involving teeth that hurt like hell.

That 2nd to last line had me burst out with laughter, first wondering what on earth would cause a person to be overcome with "extreme flatulence" and then wondering whether they were admitted themselves or were forcibly removed from the fair grounds! The last line extended my joviality a bit longer.

Fascinating Comment re A Tale of Two Cities

I don't know if all bloggers are the same but whenever an Anonymous comment comes in I feel a certain sense of apprehension. Why? Because they're often left by creeps crawling out from underneath their rocks, simply to spit out some [often] nonsensical poison. How pleasantly surprised was I to receive the following eloquent comment. It's so good that I'm reposting it here:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Tale of Two Cities":

Similarly, New York City, once famous for the mayhem on its streets, is now a far more civil and pleasant city than Vancouver (in terms of harassment by street people). On a four-day trip there last fall, I saw three homeless people and was bothered by panhandlers once. In Vancouver, I beat that rate after within a block of my apartment.

I believe that the public perceptions of city residents plays a large part in the aggressiveness of panhandlers. In Vancouver, people have been encouraged (by ineffectual governments seeking to evade their responsibilities by redefining the problem, and by highly effective addict advocacy groups such as DERA, VANDU, the Portland Hotel Society, etc) to feel sorry for the street people, to "help" (that is, enable) them. Vancouverites have bought in to the lie that addiction is a mental illness, that the poor street people are incapable of choosing any other life for themselves, that giving them money somehow helps them.

I see it all the time - beggars working the lineups at nightclubs, beggars claiming to be hungry, beggars hectoring people, following them for blocks. And people, rather than reacting with disgust and disdain, give them money - sometimes from fear (which is well-grounded, given that Vancouver beggars know they can operate with impunity), but usually out of some sense that they should help the poor people. (As if financing a drug habit helps anyone.)

Beggars will stop if people stop giving them money. Vancouver beggars get more numerous and aggressive because it works - because Vancouverites buy into the illogic. New Yorkers (and, I suspect, Hawaiians) do not.

The Posh Restaurant

I'd been to this Japanese Sukiyaki restaurant once before. Some friends and I went out this past evening and really enjoyed it. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Crayon Physics Deluxe

Amazing software:

A Tale of Two Cities

The following was just submitted to the Vancouver Sun:

I was back home in Vancouver but one day when I was vividly (and sadly) reminded that my month long vacation in Honolulu was over. I'm not referring to the dramatic change in weather, but rather the drastic "climate" change on the streets.

First, let's look at an overview of the two cities:

Population: 377,000
Area: 272 sq. km

Population: 612,000
Area: 115 sq. km

Metro Honolulu
Population: 910,000
Area: 5,509 sq. km

Metro Vancouver
Population: 2,117,000
Area: 2,877 sq. km

One fact that's not well illustrated in these statistics is that there are over 4 Million tourists visiting Honolulu every year, most of them packed into the relatively small area of Waikiki (think English Bay to the Burrard Street Bridge, Davie to the waterfront). Such a large number of visitors can expose a community to major problems.

Both communities are plagued with homelessness and drug addiction. A friend of mine in Honolulu, a retired police captain, described just how rampant crystal meth addiction is there. So make no mistake, Honolulu has definite problems just like Vancouver does.

But there is one big difference, one critically important difference that my 76 year-old mother and I immediately noticed. There are no street people harassing tourists and locals alike! None. Zero. Nada. Returning home to Vancouver and walking along the so-called upscale South Granville area, I was brought back to the reality of having to weave my way through the gauntlet of sad looking souls asking if I could spare some change; 2 or 3 per block seems to be the norm. It did not escape my attention that most of these folks were young men in their 20's and most of their ilk has been engaged in this "profession" for several years.

Back in Hawaii, these same sort of people are there, pushing the shopping carts around, but they do not harass those around them. I suspect that if they did there would be some immediate consequences. Does that last word still exist in Canadian dictionaries?

Here in Vancouver we seem to have a constant barrage of politicians and others telling us that "this is a way of life for a growing city", that we "should feel grateful for what we have and sorry for those asking us for money", and the all purpose pass-the-buck excuse, "there's nothing we can do, you need to complain to the federal government".

The federal politicians (and that means ALL of them) must indeed accept some of the responsibility for the general lack of civility on the streets of Canadian cities. To fully realize just how lax the Canadian Justice System has become, let's look at a case recently in the news in Hawaii. A criminal named Rudy Bernardino was sentenced to 20 years in prison for operating a methamphetamine laboratory out of his apartment. Please reread the last sentence. He received TWENTY years for manufacturing crystal meth (aka poison). Does anyone think an identical crime in Vancouver would get him even 6 months?

As a mere tourist, I don't know all that the Hawaii police and the District Attorney are doing to combat crime but it clearly must be a lot more than is being done here. I would strongly recommend that the Vancouver Sun send a reporter or two over to Honolulu for a few weeks to do a series of special reports, comparing the differences between there and here. I'm sure it would be an eye-opener for all British Columbians!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ingenious Vocal Harmony

Here are 2 examples showing a very creative use of video editing software. It's fascinating to me how each woman was able to sing in a very distinctively different octave. I can't sing in any pitch properly!

I'm No Longer a Woman!!!

At least not as far as Mastercard thinks! Ever since I've had a Mastercard credit card, my receipts always showed up as "Mrs. Robert Werner". I had asked them about this before but they said there was no problem with my account. Using my credit card extensively on my recent trip, it became more of a nuisance than ever, with some very odd looks from some waitresses.

So I called them today and finally dealt with someone who saw what the problem was. I'm now a man again!

Imagine, a painless sex-change operation done in just a matter of seconds! Though there was an extremely long wait but us Canadians are used to that! :-)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Geographic Action Plan

I am now absolutely determined to restructure my life so that I can spend October thru March in parts of the world other than Vancouver. I don't know how quickly I can make this happen but I have a definite goal of doing so and am determined to make it happen!

Why Did I Come Back Home Again?

After 30 days in Hawaii, I finally had to return to reality. So last night at 9pm (12am PDT) my plane departed for San Francisco. It arrived around 5am. I got some breakfast, read several newspapers, and waited for my next flight. It left around 7am. Leaving the airport there was a clear sky and the sun was just rising in the sky.

Hundreds of kilometres from Vancouver, the plane was flying above a solid blanket of white clouds. When it finally descended, it seemed to take an endless amount of time to pass through these clouds. When we finally got below them, my eyes were greeted by a miserable rainy, dreary, grey scene at YVR. Do you see any sunlight in this shot?

Do tell me why I left this scene in Honolulu. For the life of me, I can't figure it out!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Honolulu Grand Parade - Videos

The Honolulu Festival Grand Parade

The Honolulu Festival occurs just once every year. The evening I was leaving was the Grand Parade. I didn't get to see all of it but did capture a great many of the vibrant colours. All in all a neat way to finish up my glorious month in Hawaii!

The Great Robot Race

I saw this segment on PBS and was absolutely fascinated. Robots clearly will be a big part of our lives in the future and the teams of brilliant minds featured here are on the leading edge of their research!